Women’s empowerment summit, Animus, returns to Puerto Rico
By Sheika Gómez
SAN JUAN – Providing women a space for inspiration, learning, connection and access to growth opportunities, irrespective on where they stand in their careers, is what prompted Puerto Rican business owners Lucienne Gigante and Carlos Cobián to create Animus.
The empowerment and action summit dedicated to women’s personal, professional and business development returns for its third edition Oct. 6 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center, with nearly 1,000 people expected to attend.
To broaden the spectrum of experiences presented at the event, Animus selects in each edition a large group of leaders of all types of industries and ages who have broken down barriers in their respective fields and became role models. This year they will receive more than 30 world-renowned presenters, including Puerto Rican actress, singer and dancer Rita Moreno; the president of Bettina cosmetics, Bettina Mercado; the senior vice president of Global Public Affairs for Estée Lauder; the communications director of former first lady Michelle Obama, María Cristina González; and Education Secretary Julia Keleher.
“Investing in the economic development of women is a country’s solution for its transformation and progress. Women are paving the way and growing businesses at a brisk pace and we need tools to grow them in a scalable way,” said Gigante, who was worked more than 10 years creating innovation and development programs for women.
A scalable business is that which can triumph in large markets, with a lean structure and a large profit margin.
Gigante explained that Animus invites women to think big, to open doors and to have the opportunity to hear stories of both success and failure, which serve as a guide for people any age and during any moment in their career.
For his part, Cobián, who claimed to be lucky to be surrounded by great women, revealed that in addition to the discussion to raise awareness about gender equality or equity, “as a man I realized that women-led companies have better financial returns than those who aren’t.” Therefore, he believes that, beyond an injustice, not having women in leadership roles is a poor business decision.
Animus is a dynamic event that offers a variety of formats, from short 5-minute presentations and discussions about the work experience, to lecture sessions and panels, will also include a “mentor booth,” in which participants can arrange one-on-one meetings with the presenters.
Also, as part of the new offering for the 2017 edition, the A+ Marketplace is opening. It is a creative space to exhibit and promote companies that are innovative, creative and integrate technology in their operations. The space seeks to highlight different companies that are “making noise” in the art, fashion, services, technology, entertainment and manufacturing industries. Cobián explained that these may be already established businesses or companies, but that currently have innovative projects.
To this end, a group of entrepreneurs will select the A+ companies that will be part of the market. Thirty women entrepreneurs will be presenting their products to more than 800 participants. Although there are already some companies selected, Animus encourages local entrepreneurs to nominate other women-led companies to become part of the A+ Marketplace on the event’s website.
At the request of participants from previous years, in this edition Animus will also launch a series of workshops to delve into key professional and business development issues, including leadership, positioning and social media strategy. These will be concurrent during the morning of the event and free of cost for participants.
Moreover, this new edition will see the return of Startup Showcase, a platform where five companies present a business proposal. Jossie Edmée Arroyo, founder of Bien Cool, will be one of the entrepreneurs presenting their company and growth plans.
It was after a presentation at Animus that Cristina Sumaza, founder of the Lote 23 food park in Santurce, had an investor approach her that resulted in the last capital she needed to develop the project, which had taken years of planning. On this occasion, Sumaza will participate in the A+ Marketplace with a group of local chefs and their proposals in Lote 23.
In addition to being a summit for connecting and inspiring that provides for actions that can be immediately implemented, Cobián and Gigante hope that this year more innovative projects will be presented so more women can make themselves known and establish links with companies that help them develop their businesses.